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If you are looking for an off-road SUV you can drive every day, be sure to test-drive the Subaru Forester Wilderness.

PMG PHOTO: JEFF ZURSCHMEIDE - The Wilderness packages makes the 2022 Subaru Forester ideal for Pacific Northwest recrerational driving because it featues an extra half-inch of ground clearance, upgraded underbody protection, and a different final drive ratio and  programming of the all-wheel drive system's off-road X-Mode for more off-road capability than other Forester models. The Subaru Forester is a quiet giant. It's the best-selling Subaru model in America, moving well over 150,000 units per year. There's a good reason for that, because the Forester has been right-sized at the right price since it was introduced for the 1998 model year.

The Forester looks more like a tall station wagon than a conventional SUV. Its driving dynamics are agile and responsive, more like a passenger car than a lumbering SUV. Yet you get up to 9.2 inches of ground clearance and a capable all-wheel drive system, making this vehicle one of the most capable off-road crossovers on the market.

PMG PHOTO: JEFF ZURSCHMEIDE - All 2022 Subaru Forester models come with  a 2.5-liter Boxer engine that produce 182 horsepower and 176 foor pounds of torque, a lineartronic continuously variable automatic transmission, and symmetrical all-wheel-drive.

The Forester is powered by a 2.5-liter naturally aspirated engine. You get 182 horsepower and 176 lb-ft of torque to work with. That may not sound like a lot in today's automotive market, but the Forester never feels underpowered. Subaru makes great use of the engine power through its Lineartronic Continuously Variable Transmission and Symmetrical All-Wheel-Drive system. The net effect is that you get to drive a well-balanced car and still achieve up to 28 MPG on the highway. In fact, we usually do a little better than the EPA estimates when we drive the Forester.

The Forester Wilderness is the latest new trim level, but it's much more than a paint-and-stickers package. Not only does it give you an extra half-inch of ground clearance, the Wilderness upgrades the underbody protection, final drive ratio, and the programming of the all-wheel drive system's off-road X-Mode to give you more off-road capability than other Forester models. One really cool feature is the 180-degree wide angle forward camera to help you find your way through rough terrain. The Wilderness also comes in unique colors and offers special wheels with all-terrain tires. Finally, you get a more robust roof rack for your rooftop tent or gear pod. The Forester Wilderness will support 220 pounds on top when driving, and up to 800 pounds when parked.

PMG PHOTO: JEFF ZURSCHMEIDE - Safety in the 2022 Subaru Forester Wilderness is enhanced with the usual suite of advanced driver assistance, plus standard blind spot monitoring, lane change assistance, and rear cross traffic alerts, as well as available reverse automatic braking.

Inside, the Forester Wilderness offers contrast stitching on the water-resistant StarTex upholstery, aluminum and copper-finish accents, and the kind of all-weather floor mats that you usually have to order after you buy the car.

Technology is also part of the Forester Wilderness, with an available Harman Kardon audio system managed through an eight-inch multimedia navigation system. You always get streaming Apple and Android phone integration, voice activation, and a CD player as well as a USB interface. Safety is enhanced with the usual suite of advanced driver assistance, plus standard blind spot monitoring, lane change assistance, and rear cross traffic alerts, as well as available reverse automatic braking.

PMG PHOTO: JEFF ZURSCHMEIDE - Inside, the 2022 Forester Wilderness offers contrast stitching on the water-resistant StarTex upholstery, aluminum and copper-finish accents, and  all-weather floor mats.

On the road, the Forester Wilderness is softly sprung, so it soaks up the bumps and rough pavement of our Pacific Northwest roads, but it never feels like it's floating or wallowing in corners. The additional ride height makes the Wilderness easy to get into or out of; you don't have to lower yourself into the car, and you don't have to climb up into it. The Wilderness is just about perfectly balanced. When you get to where the pavement ends, the Forester Wilderness just keeps going. You can scramble up loose or wet surfaces with X-Mode. Unlike older versions, the X-Mode in the Forester Wilderness is good above 25 MPH, so you can have the additional traction on unpaved roads that support medium speeds.

PMG PHOTOS: JEFF ZURSCHMEIDE - Three adults can fit comfortably in the rear seats of all 2022 Subaru Forester models.

Finally, the Forester Wilderness takes advantage of its custom final drive ratio to double the basic towing capacity to 3,000 pounds, giving you the option of towing a boat or small camper. If you're looking for a great all-around off-road SUV at a convenient size and a great price, the Forester Wilderness is a strong choice.

Pricing starts at $32,820 for the Wilderness edition. That puts the top of the Forester line at about the same price as the Toyota RAV4 Adventure trim, and you're getting a much more capable vehicle. If you're looking for an off-road SUV you can drive every day, be sure to test-drive the Subaru Forester Wilderness.

PMG PHOTO: JEFF ZURSCHMEIDE - The 2022 Subaru Forester Wilderness includes the kind of all-weather floor mats that you usually have to order after you a car or crossover SUV.

2022 Subaru Forester Wilderness

Base price: $32,820

Price as tested: $36,015

Type: Compact SUV

Engine: 2.5-liter four-cylinder (182 hp, 176 lbs-ft)

Transmission: Lineartronic Continuously Variable Transmission

EPA estimated mileage: 25/28

Overall length: 182.7 inches

Curb weight: 3,643 pounds

Final assembly: Gunma, Japan


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